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Nong Nooch Tropical Garden

by Social Media Manager (01 May 2012)

First a little history. . . Mr Pisit and Mrs Nongnooch Tansacha purchased a 600-acre (1,500 rai or 2.4 km2) plot of beautiful land in Chonburi province back in 1954, with the intention of developing the land as a fruit plantation. However, at the last moment they decided to create a wildlife conservation project, by way of planting and researching tropical flowers and plants, instead. Originally intended purely for botanical conservation, the garden was later turned into a tourist attraction and opened to the public in 1980. Today the gardens cover 500 magical acres and represent a concerted effort to manage plant species in cultivation. The garden, along with participating institutions, aims to preserve long-term genetic diversity in cultivated populations as well as propagate highly endangered species. So there you have it, now on with the show...

The garden is really one of the most beautiful in the world and it’s surprising to many that its fame is not more well-known. Although you might spy 30 or so tour buses in the parking lot upon arrival, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that whilst out ‘n’ about in the grounds, you’ll hardly see them, given the sheer size of the grounds. The garden showcase all kinds of styles, everything from French provincial to English rose, topiary, jungle and even an orchid house brimming over with some 23 species of bloom [that they also sell].

One of the nicest things about Nong Nooch is its very relaxed atmosphere, whereby you won’t feel pushed in any one direction. Feel free to wander the gardens at leisure and in any desired direction. All of the different garden areas are well connected via a set of ground-level paths and raised walkways. In truth, it’s kind of nice to walk around both down below and then up high so as to have a bird’s eye view – which is really the only way to truly comprehend just how vast and impressive the garden is. For those not keen or able to accomplish a lot of walking, there is a free shuttle service to take you to each major spot.

At this point we would be remiss not to point out that the garden is not just a garden, there is also a cultural show, elephant park, exotic car museum, fish ponds, butterfly/bird avery and petting zoo [all included in your entry ticket]! You really have to wonder what’s going on at times. So make sure you pick up a map at the entrance to help you navigate and make the best use of your time.

In the petting zoo you can see up-close “exotic” animals like tiger cubs and orang-utans, along with more common beasts like goats, sheep, lamas, miniature horses and galahs. If you’re lucky you might even bump into an elephant or two whilst wandering around. Otherwise you can be quite blatant about it and pay hundreds of Thai baht to ride one for about 10 minutes up and down the parking lot.

Our vote for the most bazaar thing you’ll see in the garden goes to the owner’s display of some 20 high performance cars, featuring a rare collection of both modern and classic sports, performance and touring vehicles. It is quite possibly one of the best car collections on display in Thailand that petrol-heads will salivate over. The mint condition cars range from a Mini and Volkswagen, to Smart Car (with trailer), Lotus, Cadillac (with Louis Vuitton detailing!) and Hummer. Not to mention a Night Rider–esque ‘80s Lotus sports car in mellow yellow!

There is also a “cultural show” worth checking out, which the company’s website describes as follows: “Witness a demonstration of an elephants intellect playing football, basketball, bowling dancing and even playing with tourists!!! We promise you will be so amazed with the show – you will not want it to end. It's an experience you'll never forget”. show is about 40 minutes-long and is performed about four times throughout the day, which lends itself well to keeping your own pace around the grounds. In addition, for those interested, when the show is over you can take pictures with some of the performers as well as the very large, adorable and well-trained elephants.

As the gardens are big you’ll probably need a full day to really appreciate the surrounds in a leisurely manner. For those in a rush, the feat can be accomplished in a half-day but you’ll probably want to make use of the free shuttle service. Having said that, if you’re an amateur photographer you’ll no doubt need considerably more time; you’ll probably also incite the wrath of friends and family when you commence a frenzy of unstoppable snapping. Besides all the beautiful attractions, you’ll also find two restaurants serving western and Thai food, countless souvenir stores, an information centre and even adorable lakeside cabins for overnight stays.

The gardens are in a constant state of flux with new attractions being built all the time. Plants and flowers change with the seasons so no matter when you go you’ll be guaranteed to see new sights and new colours and can thus go back again and gain. For our money, Nong Nooch Tropical Garden really is a must see while in Thailand and makes for a wonderful trip if you happen to be in or around Pattaya.

Getting there: The gardens are located about 20km outside of Pattaya. The easiest way to get there is to rent a car; it’s an easy 25 minute drive from the city, just 5 minutes past the floating market. Otherwise try taking a songtaow from down-town Pattaya for Bht 300. Nong Nooch also offers a twice daily pick-up service, including entry and shows (Bht 600) from your hotel; leaving 8:30am and 2:30pm daily. The entire park is open from 8:00am – 6:00pm, 7 days a week, with restaurants open until 10:00pm, 365 days a year (including public holidays). For more info, go to:

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